Overview of Regulatory Requirements Governing Natural Gas Development in the Fayetteville Shale Region

State and federal regulatory requirements govern each step in the process of finding and producing natural gas from the Fayetteville Shale.

The process of finding and producing natural gas from the Fayetteville Shale can be described as a series of discrete steps and processes. Each major step is shown below. Click on any of the boxes for additional information about the state and federal regulatory requirements that govern each step.

Regulations Flow Diagram Leasing Seismic Studies Site Preparation Drilling Well Preparation Well Production and Water Management Pipelines Closure

Several documents are applicable to multiple steps in the process. They are listed below.

State:

Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission (AOGC) Rules and Regulations.

Federal:

Bureau of Land Management Gold Book.

Onshore Order No. 1.

Endangered Species Act (ESA) Requirements

General ESA Provisions: In addition to the documents listed above, the federal ESA has broad applicability to most of the steps in the process. Rather than repeat language regarding ESA provisions on the regulatory pages for each step, an overview of ESA requirements is provided here.

The ESA requires that federal agencies ensure, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by such agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered and threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat of such species that is determined critical by the USFWS. Therefore, any activity with a federal nexus requires some level of consultation with the USFWS. USFWS comments are required prior to the issuance of federal permits. The USFWS has 30 days from the receipt of a request for an "Endangered Species Clearance" to provide written comments.

There are three effect determinations for consultation:

  • No effect (concludes consultation);

  • May affect, not likely to adversely affect (effects must be discountable, insignificant, or completely beneficial for this determination; USFWS concurrence required); and

  • May affect, likely to adversely affect (the appropriate determination when adverse effects may occur as a direct or indirect consequence and are not discountable, insignificant, or completely beneficial; triggers formal consultation and requires a biological assessment from the action agency and subsequently a biological opinion from the USFWS.

To the extent that any natural gas-related operations involve a federal nexus, USFWS consultation may be required.

Best Management Practices (BMPs) to Protect Threatened and Endangered Species: The Arkansas ecological services field office of the USFWS in Conway, Arkansas, has developed voluntary draft BMPs for protecting threatened and endangered species in the Fayetteville Shale region. The BMPs focus on buffer zones or setbacks between sensitive structures or populations and natural gas development activities. The BMPs also identify times of the year when sensitive activities or life stages occur. To the extent possible, the USFWS recommends scheduling natural gas development activities outside of these critical time periods. [link to file USFWS BMP-apr07.pdf -- As of February 2008, the draft BMPs are not available via the Internet. For the time being, we will have to have the file on our website.]

DISCLAIMER
This regulatory information is provided as guidance to viewers. It should not be used as the sole source of information concerning the relevant and applicable regulatory requirements. Agency organization, laws and regulations, and Web linkages are subject to change. Therefore viewers are encouraged to check with the appropriate regulatory agencies for authorized up-to-date information.
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